Upcoming changes in antibiotic use by pork producers: Are you ready?

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Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling goes into effect October 1, 2015 which contains several important changes for pork producers.

“Traditionally, pork producers have used antibiotics for three purposes: treatment of illnesses, control or prevention of diseases, and to improve nutritional efficiency. However, due to the concern about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the FDA has issued a new ruling to ensure the continued responsible use of these products in food animals,” said Bob Thaler, Professor and SDSU Extension Swine Specialist, referencing FDA Guidance #213.

Implemented on October 1, 2015 with a full implementation date of December 31, 2016, guidance #213 will now require that a veterinarian write a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) or prescription for all antibiotics used in feed. “Like a human prescription, the VFD will specify the antibiotic used, the dosage approved, animals to be treated, and how long the treatment is approved for,” Thaler said. “The FDA is working to make sure that the rules won’t place an undue burden on producers, veterinarians, and feed suppliers.”

In addition, Thaler explained that the guidance requires that the veterinarian writing the VFD must has a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient relationship with the producer, something that is the backbone of the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance program. “By having a strong working relationship between the veterinarian and producer, better treatment decisions can be made,” he said.

Under guidance #213, antibiotics can no longer be used to improve nutritional efficiency. “Once Guidance #213 is fully implemented in December 2016, it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics for production purposes,” Thaler said. “Again, the VFD will only be written for the prevention, control, or treatment of specifically identified diseases.”

Thaler added that record keeping will increase under the new rules. The veterinarian writing the VFD, the feed mill or distributor receiving the VFD, and the producer receiving the medicated feed must all keep a copy of the VFD on file for two years.

“Guidance #213 and the new VFD rules will help ensure that medically important antibiotics will still be efficacious in human use, and that pork producers and veterinarians are working together to provide the very best medical care for their animals as possible,” he said.

October 1 is less than a month away, and Thaler urges producers to sit down with their veterinarians sooner than later in order to develop an antibiotic strategy for their individual operations.

“A strong veterinary-client-patient relationship is critical in moving forward successfully with the new antibiotic rules,” Thaler said.

To learn more, visit iGrow.org.